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2014 BAR EXAMINATION IN

LEGAL ETHICS
(With Suggested Answers)
ESSAY QUESTIONS

I. Judge A is a close friend of Governor G. On several occasions, Judge A would


borrow vehicles from the office of the Governor to travel to his judicial
stations. Judge As actuation: (1%)

(c) is downright unethical

II. R is retained counsel of ABC Bank-Ermita Branch. One day, his Balikbayan
Compadre B, consulted him about his unclaimed deposits with the said
branch of ABC Bank, which the bank had refused to give to him claiming
that the account had become dormant. R agreed to file a case against the
bank with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila. B lost the case, but
upon the advice of R, he no longer appealed the decision. B later
discovered that R was the retained counsel of ABC Bank-Ermita Branch.
Does B have any remedy? Discuss the legal and ethical implications of the
problem. (4%)

SUGGESTED ANSWER:

B can file an administrative case against R for representing conflicting of


interest of ABC Bank and B in violation of Rule 15.03 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility. There is also conflict of interest when a lawyer represents
inconsistent interests of two or more opposing parties. In the instant question,
the test is" whether or not in behalf of one client, it is the lawyer's duty to fight
for an issue or claim, but it is his duty to oppose it for the other client. In brief, if
he argues for one client, this argument will be opposed by him when he argues
for the other client." The prohibition is founded on the principles of public policy
and good taste. It behooves lawyers not only to keep inviolate the client's
confidence, but also to avoid the appearance of treachery and double-dealing
for only then can litigants be encouraged to entrust their secrets to their
lawyers, which is of paramount importance in the administration of justice.
(Orola vs. Atty. Ramos, Sept. 11, 2013).

III.The Code of Professional Responsibility is the code of conduct for: (1%)


SUGGESTED ANSWER:

(C) members of the Bench and Bar. Although the Code of Professional
Responsibility refers to lawyers, members of the bench are lawyers who
are required to comment on the complaints filed against them and show
cause why they should not be suspended, disbarred or otherwise
disciplinary sanctioned as a member of the bar as provided for in A. M. 02-
9-02 SC (Re : Automatic conversion of some administrative cases against
Justices (except Supreme Court Justices who can only be the subject if
impeachment), Judges and Court Officials who are lawyers as disciplinary
proceedings against them both in such officials and as members of the
Philippine Bar).

IV. A is accused of robbery in a complaint filed by B. A sought free legal


assistance from the Public Attorneys Office (PAO) and Atty. C was
assigned to handle his case. After reviewing the facts as stated in the
complaint and as narrated by A, Atty. C is convinced that A is guilty. (4%)

a. May Atty. C refuse to handle the defense of A and ask to be


relieved?

b. In (a), if the lawyer is counsel de parte for the accused and he


learns later after the case and while trial is on-going that his
client was indeed the perpetrator of the crime, may the lawyer
withdraw his appearance from the case? Why or why not?

SUGGESTED ANSWER:

A. Atty. C of the PAO cannot refuse to handle the defense of A who is an


indigent client based on its circular. He is a counsel de oficio who is
duty bound to exert his best effort and professional ability to defend
his client (People vs. Esteba, 27 SCRA 106). Moreover, he cannot not
decline the appointment as counsel de oficio (Rule 14.02, Code of
Professional Responsibility).

B. No he cannot. A counsel can withdraw his services only for good cause
and upon notice appropriate to the circumstances under Canon 22 of
the Code of Professional Responsibility. This is not one of the grounds
to justify withdrawal under Rule 22.01 of the CPR unless the client
insists that the lawyer pursue conduct violative of the canons and
rules. In Rule 14.01, CPR, a lawyer shall not decline to represent a
client because of his own opinion regarding the guilt of said person.

V. The rendition of free legal service is a lawyers: (1%)

(A) moral duty.

Moral duty is above social obligation and legal mandate. The lawyer
voluntarily imposes upon himself higher duties and more noble
obligations enshrined in the Lawyer's Oath which goes beyond
commitment to social obligation and legal mandates.

VI. Atty. D was required by Judge H of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila
to show cause why he should not be punished for contempt of court for
shouting invectives at the opposing counsel and harassing his witness.
Assuming that there was sufficient cause or ground, may Judge H suspend
Atty. D from the practice of law? If Judge H finds that the actuations of
Atty. D are grossly unethical and unbecoming of a member of the bar,
may Judge H disbar Atty. D instead? Explain your answer. (5%)

SUGGESTED ANSWER:

Judge H can suspend Atty. D for gross misconduct under Sections 27 and
28, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court. Judge H, however, cannot disbar Atty. D
because it is only the Supreme Court who can impose such penalty in
accordance with its authority under Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of
Court and the authority of the Supreme Court to discipline lawyers under
the 1987 Constitution.

VII. The court ordered Atty. Z to testify as a witness for his client in the very
case he is handling, but he refused on the ground that it would violate the
rule on privileged communication. Atty. Z is guilty of: (1%)

SUGGESTED ANSWER:
Distinction should be made. If Atty. Z refuses to testify on formal matters,
like mailing, authentication or custody of documents, he can be cited for
direct contempt (under Section 1, Rule 71 of the Rules of Court) for refusal
to be a witness. However, if the matter to be testified is substantial, he
cannot be guilty of contempt or any violation of his duty to the court,
based on Rule 12.08, Code of Professional Responsibility.

VIII. C and D are law partners using the firm name C and D Attorneys at
Law. In an administrative case filed against C, the Supreme Court (SC)
found that C was not entitled to admission to the practice of law in the
Philippines and ordered his name stricken-off from the Roll of Attorneys.
As a result C and D changed their firm name to Law Office of D Attorney
at Law, C Counselor, with C handling purely counselling and office
work while D is the law practitioner. Are C and D liable for contempt of the
court? Explain your answer. (5%)

SUGGESTED ANSWER:

C and D are liable for contempt of court. C and D formed a professional


partnership wherein they contributed money, property and industry. C
assumes to be an attorney without any authority. D not only assist in the
illegal practice of law but conspired with C. Canon 9 of the CPR clearly
states that a lawyer shall not, directly or indirectly, assist in the
unauthorized practice of law. As counselling is considered practice of
law, D delegated the performance of a legal task to C, an unqualified
person.

IX. Judge A accepted a gift consisting of assorted canned goods other


grocery items from his compadre whose friend has a pending case with
him. He accepted the gift just so as not to embarrass his compadre. When
his compadre left his chambers, he asked his secretary to donate the gift
he received to the victims of Typhoon Yolanda. Did the judge cross the
ethical line? Explain your answer. (5%)

SUGGESTED ANSWER:

Judge A crossed the ethical line. He violated the canon of Propriety. As


a subject of public scrutiny, judges must accept personal restrictions
that might be viewed as burdensome by ordinary citizens and should
do so freely and voluntarily. (Section1, Canon 4, New Code of Judicial
Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary).

X. Atty M is a partner in the law firm OMP & Associates. C, a former classmate
of Atty. M engaged the legal services of Atty. M to handle his appeal to the
Court of Appeals (CA) from an adverse decision of the Regional Trial Court
(RTC) in his annulment case. After the notice to file brief was issued by the
CA, Atty. M met an accident which incapacitated him from further
engaging law practice. May Atty. P, his partner in the law firm, file the
required appeal brief for C? Explain your answer. (5%)

SUGGESTED ANSWER:

Yes, Atty. P can file the required appeal brief. Atty. P is an associate
OMP & Associates. The law firm which has a legal personality as a
professional partnership is the counsel, not Atty. P or Atty. M.

XI. A judge who insults counsel and shouts invectives at a litigant is guilty of:
(1%)

SUGGESTED ANSWER:

The judge is guilty of serious misconduct. Under Canon 4, New Code of


Judicial Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary, a judge shall avoid
impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all his activities. In the
problem, the judge (in his capacity as such) insults a counsel and shouts
invectives at a litigant (not as individuals).

XII. A inherited parcel of land situated in Batasan Hills which is occupied by


informal settlers. He wanted to eject the occupants, but he has no
financial means to pursue the ejectment case. He contracted the services
of Atty. B, who agreed to defray all the expenses of the suit on the
condition that he will be paid one-half () of the property to be recovered
as his compensation. What is this kind of attorneys fees? Can Atty. B
enforce this contract against A?
What are the respective remedies relative to the collection of attorneys
fees, if any, of A and Atty. B against each other? (5%)

SUGGESTED ANSWER:

This is a champertous contract and not a contingent contract. In the


problem, Atty. B defrays all the expenses for litigation and gets 50% of the
property to be recovered as his compensation, which the characterstics of
a champertous; hence, void for being contrary to public policy. The legal
profession exists to serve the ends of justice and is not to be conducted
as a business enterprise. Since the contract is void, Atty. B cannot enforce
it against A but A has a cause of action against Atty. B for unethical
conduct.

XIII. M engaged the services of Atty. D to prosecute his annulment of marriage


case in the Regional Trial Court (RTC). After a long-drawn trial, Atty. D was
able to secure a favourable judgment from the court. Unfortunately, M has
failed to pay in full the stipulated attorneys fees of Atty. D. How can Atty.
D collect his fees from M? Discuss fully. (4%)

SUGGESTED ANSWER:

D can exercise the remedy of retaining lien over the documents and other
pieces of evidence which have lawfully come to his possession, under
Sec. 37, Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court. The payment of attorney's
fee is based on the services rendered and not dependent on the success
or failure of the case.

XIV. A person named and appointed by the court to defend an absentee


defendant in the suit in which the appointment is made is an: (1%)

(a) attorney-in-fact
(b)attorney ad hoc
(c) attorney de oficio
XV. Will a lawyer violate the Code of Professional Responsibility if he forms a
partnership with professionals of other disciplines like doctors, engineers,
architects or accountants? Explain your answer. (4%)

SUGGESTED ANSWER:

Yes, the Code of Professional Responsibility prohibits unauthorized


practice of law so that lawyers cannot directly or indirectly assist said
practice, or delegate its practice to one who is not qualified to do so. In
partnership, the act of a partner is the act of the partnership; hence, a
non-lawyer cannot perform an act that has a legal effect and in the name
of the partnership.

XVI. A person who has been refused admission to the bar by order of the
Supreme Court but nonetheless attempts to practice law is guilty of: (1%)

(a) direct contempt


(b)indirect contempt
(c) criminal attempt

XVII. Judge Clint Braso is hearing a case between Mr. Timothy and Khristopher
Company, a company where his wife used to work as one of its Junior
Executives for several years. Doubting the impartiality of the Judge, Mr.
Timothy filed a motion to inhibit Judge Clint Braso. Judge Clint Braso
refused on the ground that his wife has long resigned from the company.
Decide. (4%)

SUGGESTED ANSWER:

The matter of inhibition is addressed to the judicious discretion of the


judge; hence, only he can examine is his conscience if he can answer to
the call of cold neutrality.

XVIII. The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) may intervene in a case
involving a matter of public law or professional concern as: (1%)
(a) friend of the court
(b)amicus par excellence
(c) amicus curiae

XIX. After the pre-trial of a civil case for replevin, Judge D advised Bs counsel
to settle the case because according to Judge D, his initial assessment of
the case shows that Bs evidence is weak. (4%)

(a) Did Judge D commit an act of impropriety? Explain

(b)What remedy or remedies may be taken by Bs lawyer against


Judge D? Discuss Fully.

SUGGESTED ANSWER:

A. Yes, Judge D violated Canon 3, Impartiality, New Code of Judicial


Conduct for the Philippine Judiciary. He should not make any comment
that might reasonably be expected the effect the outcome of the
proceedings or impair the manifest fairness of the process.
B. B's lawyer can file a motion for the disqualification of the judge under
Canon 3 for bias or prejudice based on the appearance of the
comment to a reasonable observer. A pre-trial is not yet the complete
and exhaustive presentation of evidence of the parties.

XX. B hired Atty. Z to file a replevin case against C for an agreed acceptance
fee of P30,000.00 which was evidence by a written contract. After the
complaint was filed by Atty. Z, B terminated this services and hire a new
lawyer for the same amount of attorneys fees. How much attorneys fees
is Atty. Z entitled to? (4%)

SUGGESTED ANSWER:

Under Section 26, Rule 138, Atty. Z is entitled to the full amount, if his
dismissal is without justifiable cause.
XXI. Justice B of the Court of Appeals (CA) was a former Regional Trial Court
(RTC) Judge. A case which he heard as a trial judge was raffled off to him.
The appellant sought his disqualification from the case but he refused on
the ground that he was not the judge who decided the case as he was
already promoted to the appellate court before he could decide the case.
Was the refusal of Justice B to recuse from the case proper? Explain your
answer. (5%)

SUGGESTED ANSWER:

Justice B's refusal to recuse is not proper. After hearing the evidence
during the trial when he was still a judge, he has personal knowledge of
the disputed evidentiary facts concerning the proceedings. The standard
under the New Code of Judicial Conduct on the inability of Justice B to
decide the matter impartially is not in him but the appearance of the
disqualification of Justice D to a reasonable observer that he is unable to
decide the matter impartially. The conduct of a judge/justice should not
only be above reproach but it should be also perceived to be so in the
view of a reasonable observer (Canon 2, Integrity, New Code of Judicial
Conduct).

XXII. (A) May a lawyer collect fees for services rendered to his client despite
the absence of an agreement to pay attorneys fees?

(B) In the absence of a contract for the payment of attorneys fees, what
factor/s may be considered in fixing the amount of attorneys fees?

SUGGESTED ANSWER:

A. Yes, it is based on quantum meruit but it can be tempered by the court


if its is unconscionable.
B. Under Canon 20.01 of the CPR, the following factors are considered:

a) The time spent and the extent of the services rendered or


required;
b) The novelty and difficulty of the questions involved;
c)The importance of the subject matter;
d)The skill demanded;
e) The probability of losing other employment as a result of
acceptance of the proffered case;
f) The customary charges for similar services and the schedule
of fees of the IBP chapter to which he belongs;
g) The amount involved in the controversy and the benefits
resulting to the client form the service;
h)The contingency or certainty of compensation;
i) The character of the employment, whether occasional or
established; and
j) The professional standing of the lawyer.

XXIII. (A) May a client hire additional counsel as collaborating counsel over
and above the objection of the original counsel?

(B) If the client insists, may the original counsel withdraw from the case,
and how?

SUGGESTED ANSWER:

A. A client may hire additional counsel as collaborating counsel because it


is his (client) prerogative.

B. The original counsel may withdraw based on Rule 22.01 (c), CPR
because his inability to work with the collaborating counsel will not
promote the best interest of the client.

XXIV.(A) May an attorney talk to his witnesses before and during the trial?
Explain.

(B) In case of postponement of the trial, whose decision should prevail


the client or his attorney? Explain the governing rule. (4%)

SUGGESTED ANSWER:
A. An attorney can talk with his witnesses before the trial but it is
unethical to do so if the client is already on the witness stand during
the trial.
B. On matters of legal procedure, it is the decision of the lawyer that
prevails.

XXV. Judge A has an illicit relationship with B, his Branch Clerk of Court. C, the
wife of Judge A, discovered the illicit affair and consulted a lawyer to
vindicate her violated marital rights. If you were that lawyer, what would
you advice C, and if she agrees and asks you to proceed to take action,
what is the legal procedure that you should follow? Discuss fully. (4%)
SUGGESTED ANSWER:
File a case of immorality against Judge A and the clerk of court for
violation or Rule 1.01, CPR; impropriety under Canon 4 of the New Code
of Judicial Conduct against Judge A; and invoke the automatic conversion
of the administrative case against Judge A and the clerk of court as
members of the bar under A.M. No. 02-9-02-SC, with the Office of the
Court Administrator. Complaint for disbarment against Judge A and the
clerk of court may also be filed. (This is without prejudice to the filing of
criminal and civil cases).

XXVI. (A) If an attorney has been granted by his client full authority to enter
into an amicable settlement with the other party, may the client later on
refuse to honor the amicable settlement forged by this attorney? Explain.

(B) In such instance as in (A) above, can the lawyer withdraw from the
case and collect in full his contracted attorneys fees? Why or why not?

SUGGESTED ANSWER:
A. The client cannot refuse to honor the amicable settlement. Since the
lawyer is clothed with the proper authority, the amicable settlement is
in the form of compromise agreement which is immediately executory
under the New Civil Code. The client is now estopped from denying the
authority of his lawyer.
B. Under Section 26, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, the lawyer can
withdraw from the case and collect in full his contracted attorney's fee
since his duty to his client has already concluded with the execution of
the amicable settlement.
XXVI. Atty. C was hired by D to file an action against E for recovery of
possession of real property. In their contract of service, they stipulated
that D cannot compromise the case without the consent of Atty. C. After
trial and unknown to Atty. C, D entered into a compromise with E. Atty. C
withdrew from the case and collected from D. (1%)

SUGGESTED ANSWER:
Atty. C can collect his attorney's fees under the contract based on Section
26, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court. The act done by D is without justifiable
cause.

XXVII. Atty. Forma is a member of the Philippine Bar. He went to New York
City, took the New York State Bar, and passed the same. He then practice
in New York City. One of his American clients filed a case for disbarment
against him for pocketing the money which was entrusted to him as
payment for the filing fee and other incidental expenses for his damage
suit. Atty. Forma was later disbarred for dishonesty. Disheartened, Atty.
Forma came back to the Philippines and practiced as a lawyer. Will his
disbarment in New York be used against him for purposes of disbarment
proceeding here in the Philippines?

SUGGESTED ANSWER:
Yes, his disbarment in New York can be used against him but he should
be accorded due process.

XXVIII. If a lawyer volunteers his free legal service to a poor client. (1%)

SUGGESTED ANSWER:
Under Canon 14.04 of the CPR, he is bound to serve his client with same
degree of competence, fidelity and diligence as his paying client. The
legal profession is not a business enterprise but a profession to serve the
ends of justice.
XXIX. (A) Can a lawyer who lacks the number of units required by the
Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) Board continue to practice
his profession?

(B) May a lawyer be held liable for damages by his clients for the
lawyers failure to file the necessary pleadings to prosecute the clients
case and as a result of which the client suffered damages?

(C) Can a lawyer still practice his profession despite having arrears in
his Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) dues?

SUGGESTED ANSWER:

A. A lawyer who lacks the number of units required by MCLE cannot


continue to practice the legal profession since he is declared as a
delinquent member of the bar per Resolution of the Supreme Court
dated January 14, 2014, revoking OCA Circular No. 66-2008.
B. Yes, lawyer may be held for damages by his client for failure to
represent his client with zeal (Canon 19, CPR) and for not serving his
client with competence and diligence (Canon 18, CPR).
C. Arrears in the IBP may be a ground to suspend the lawyer upon
recommendation by the IBP to the Suprme Court.